States were asked to "work on war footing, identify virus hotspots and encircle them" to contain the infection. The focus for the next few weeks must be testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine, the PM told states.

Modi will share a video message with people on Friday morning. Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said the prime minister has urged states to manage the coronavirus crisis at the district level.

In his weekly radio address PM Narendra Modi apologised for the impact of the strict stay-at-home measures.

But he said there was "no other way" to stop the rapid spread of the virus.

"Especially when I look at my poor brothers and sisters, I definitely feel that they must be thinking, what kind of prime minister is this who has placed us in this difficulty?

"I especially seek their forgiveness," he said.